SLA's Friday Favourites (20/08) :: NEWS
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SLA's Friday Favourites (20/08)

20 August 2021 Share

Reading recommendations we think you'll love.

Title: Splinters of Sunshine

Author: Patrice Lawrence

Publisher: Hodder

Age: 13-16

Publication date: 19th August 2021

ISBN: 9781444965230

Reviewer: Dawn Woods




WHAT IS IT ABOUT?

Told from three viewpoints, Spey is preparing for Christmas in the house he shares with his Mum when he wakes up the next morning to find a stranger asleep on the sofa. It’s his Dad, Benni, who has spent much of Spey’s life in and out of prison. But Benni is keen to go straight and forge a relationship with his various children. 

Dee, on the other hand, is remembering the good times when her Nan would take her to find wildflowers and they would look at them with wonder.

Spey has had a good education from his single Mum and is doing well at school. He lost contact with Dee when they went to different secondary schools, even though they had been very close as young children. But now he thinks she is in trouble and wants to find and help her. His Dad is a good source of knowledge as Spey is completely naïve when it comes to any whiff of the drugs Dee may be mixed up in, but involving his Dad also involves others, to whom his Dad owes favours.

They find themselves on a road trip from London to Brighton to find Dee to see if she does need their help.


HOW DID READING IT MAKE YOU FEEL?

Spey is out of his depth when faced with the unknown drug world, yet he was brave enough to probe his gut feeling and try to find his childhood friend, all on a flower album arriving out of the blue he remembered putting together as a young child. His tenacity is admirable. This is a book of hope as Spey, and his Dad and mates, do the right thing and don’t walk away when it would be so easy to do so.


WHAT LASTING IMPRESSION DID IT HAVE?

Dee found school difficult as she didn’t fit in. She couldn’t follow the rules she thought ridiculous. She had her interests, but they weren’t recognised as useful by teachers or most of the other children. Spey saw her individuality, but his Mum met Dee’s Mum once and judged her, and then made sure Spey saw less of Dee. 

Adults can’t legislate for their children’s friendships, especially when those friends need help, not judgement. But peers can also recognise weaknesses and exploit those, which must be the reason many young people find themselves dragged into crime far deeper than they would like. With innocent minds like Dee’s, she was exploited by others while Spey spotted her vulnerability and wanted to help, so we should all be more Spey.


WHY SHOULD OTHERS READ IT?

The book is about drugs, county lines and how easy it is to become involved even when you don’t want to. It opens up a world of violence and exploitation and will hopefully be a warning to young people of how easy it is to find yourself in that position and how dangerous it can be – from both the drugs and the characters turned violent because of the drugs.


HOW DO YOU SEE PEOPLE USING THIS BOOK?

This is an excellent novel for book groups to discuss as the characters show such depth, knowing their own weaknesses, determined to do better.


MEET THE AUTHOR

Patrice Lawrence was born in Brighton and brought up in an Italian-Trinidadian household in Mid Sussex. She found her way to east London in the '90s and lives there with a partner, a teenager and a cat called Stormageddon. She has been writing for as long as she has been reading and her first novel, Orangeboy, has won the Waterstones Book Prize for Older Children, been shortlisted for the Costa Book Award and the YA Book Prize, nominated for the Carnegie Award and shortlisted for the Leeds and North East Book Awards. She loves crime fiction, sci-fi and trying to grow things. Her ideal mixtape includes drum 'n' bass, Bruce Springsteen and Studio Ghibli soundtracks. Music can't help creeping into her books.

Visit her website and follow her on Twitter.


Available here


Title: After the War: From Auschwitz to Ambleside

Author: Tom Palmer

Illustrator: Violet Tobacco

Publisher: Barrington Stoke

Age: 8-12

Publication date: 6th August 2020

ISBN: 9781781129487

Reviewer: Dawn Woods




WHAT IS IT ABOUT?

WW2 is finally over and a group of Jewish children, lucky to have survived Auschwitz but now without parents, are being brought to England’s Lake District to begin healing.

Yossi has nightmares about his missing Father and hopes he too survived and will come for him. His two close friends also have their own nightmares, all having seen and experienced horrific events. All the children cannot quite take in that being given one meal will be followed by another and another, and they won’t continue to be starved.

A gradual unfolding by means of flashbacks of what Jewish families lived through is alternated by chapters on learning to live this new life away from threat of death. These beginnings of trust take a while to happen, but this is ultimately a book of hope.


HOW DID READING IT MAKE YOU FEEL?

As I write, the oppressive regime of the Taliban is taking over the whole of Afghanistan, resulting in loss of possessions, homes and liberties because of an ideology held by powerful men. So even though WW2 was 76 years ago, humans have still not learned its lessons.

But the local community welcomed these children and they certainly needed this humanitarian gesture. How will this be replicated with those fleeing Afghanistan in today’s world?


WHAT LASTING IMPRESSION DID IT HAVE?

This is based on a true story, possibly unknown to many. For adults to live through the horrors of any concentration camp is bad enough, but for children it is incomprehensible. There is no way this can be compared to the recent pandemic, but there are parallels in helping children to recover slowly and the gradual ability of humans to relearn to trust others.


WHY SHOULD OTHERS READ IT?

This is a great read for children from 10 to teen to let them know what happened to Jews in the war without going into great graphic detail. Also to inform on the efforts in the aftermath to help scarred children, by many different countries. It will provoke empathy for what others have suffered.


HOW DO YOU SEE PEOPLE USING THIS BOOK?

Great to use as part of a WW2 project in primaries, but also to have available in secondaries as a quick read and one accessible to many abilities. It could be used for discussion about the differences between British evacuees and these children.


MEET THE AUTHOR

Tom Palmer writes children's books about history and sport, and visits over 150 schools every year to run his Football and Rugby Reading Games, which tie in with his long-term work in reader development. He is the winner of twenty-one children's book awards, all voted for by children, and currently lives in Yorkshire with his wife, daughter, dog and cat.

Visit his website and follow him on Twitter.


Available here